Monday, November 24, 2008

art from the...spleen?

I approached my second annual Art from the Heart show with some trepidation.

First of all, I knew there was a good chance that I'd be taking my pieces home at the end of the exhibit. (Like last year...)

I'd prepared for this eventuality by printing the images smaller (16X20 instead of 20X30) and mounting them on acid-free cardboard instead of block-mounting them but also by girding my mental loins.

This meant that since the finished pieces cost me less, I could charge less for them ($60 versus $135).

The other source of trepidation was that I had a long, horrible Friday after a less-than-kind week.

And the two family members who'd said they'd attend the show with me and help me herd Aa in and among the throng - I'd estimate there were at least 200 people there - both sort-of-kind-of let me know they wouldn't be able to make it. At least not in the capacity I was hoping for...

My vision for the evening had included being able to look at all the pieces carefully, to absorb some of the energy of the gathering, and to look at people looking at my pieces.

Knowing I'd have a bedtime-inclined Aa on my hands, I almost didn't go, demoralized by my day & my week.

But then I adjusted my expectations. So what if I didn't get to swan around? So what if my images didn't sell?

The show was all about community, about people at the beginning of their careers and people who will never have careers.

It was a room dedicated to people making something out of nothing...and it was thronged.

Aa enjoyed herself, even if her version of enjoyment included spilling her little pots of apple slices and Cheerios all over the gym floor.

I enjoyed watching the middle class zoom around in the first half hour of the sale, snapping up canvasses and infesting the room with little red dots.

I enjoyed the mirror some of the other artists held up for me, as pride at their work, finished and on the wall, combined with alarm at the number of bodies in the room, the press of 200 shifting bodies and the quiet pleasure of all those people looking at their work played over their faces.

Finally, I enjoyed the glad shock of turning a corner and finding my work. On the wall. At a small, unjuried show. But still: a glad shock.

It helped that ALL my pieces had sold by the time I got to the sale at 7:15 (the show started at 7:00). It helped that Aa cooperated - or cooperated as much as a two-and-a-half-year-old can.

And it helped that people spent a fair amount of time with the work. The writer in me wanted to flip over the images and show them the snippets of text, the provenance I'd assigned to each, pasted to the back.

But since I've started trading in images, I stood back and let the pieces speak.

And it helped, finally, that I sort-of-kind-of got my wish. I got to go back on the second day of the sale and have a look see at the other art. And I even got to see who had bought the images - as I suspected, one person had bought all three.

This being Winnipeg, it was one of M's ex-girlfriends. But neither of us knew we sort-of-kind-of shared a man when I told her they were my pieces and when she told me how excited she was to have them.

Also, she had purple hair. It was nice purple hair.

Though there were six million other things happening this weekend and the next few weeks promise to be even busier, I greatly enjoyed Art from the Heart-ing.

I'm still not sure what I should do with all of my images, my digital heaps of mushrooms, but I was reminded again what makes people so tricky: they ruin everything but they also, inexplicably, make things just to make them.

And so, even though I was fully expecting to a bundle of ambiguous feelings to take away with me as well as three 16X20 images, I feel pretty, well, good.

(Don't tell anyone, okay?)


Ian Sokoliwski said...

aw, it sucks that I never did make it down to this :(

I'm very glad you did well, though :)

I've been doing this for quite a few years now, and I still get a really cool feeling whenever someone buys some of my work - that feeling never really goes away, that someone wants to take something you've done and put it up on display in their home (or workspace or whatever).

But I've also gotta say that even just seeing my work up at a show, whether a show of my own or as part of something bigger (like the Comic Cons), is cool all on its own. I'm generally of the opinion whenever I show stuff that I'm happy to have it up where people can see it, that the effort of drawing or painting in and of itself was worth it and if anybody wants to purchase it or just look at it up on the wall, well, so much the better.

And, yeah, money is good too ;) But the art thing is a whole lot more satisfying if money isn't the primary reason for what you are doing.

Heh - listen to me ramble!

Ariel Gordon said...

Thanks for this, Ian.

Poetry prepared me well for such a one who writes poetry really expects to make any money at it.

What is harder to disavow is the burst of pleasure that comes when your work is bought. Because you shouldn't need the validation that selling a piece (or publishing a poem) provides...

Craig Saunders said...

Same day, I was on the other side. I rediscovered an old friend who was showing her work at a community art show. And I did feel some of that neat energy that comes through a community connecting through art. In this case, it was a much more intimate setting. The street (Rhodes, in Toronto) has a lot of artists living on it. They clear out their living rooms, hang them gallery-style and open their front doors to the public.

I didn't know what to expect, but found a piece I love. And I got to hang out and look at photography (abstract photography too, woohoo!).

Also, I did see the joy the artists took in having their work viewed. It's a joy writers rarely get (hence my love for letters to the editor... even grumpy ones... hell, especially the grumpy ones), so I can understand why it might appeal to you.

And yes, you did come up in conversation... my lovely friend who writes poetry and takes pictures of mushrooms.

Ariel Gordon said...

Greetings, Red!

That open house/block sounds like oodles of fun...

Thinking on your cross-discipline comments...writer DO get that energy sometimes, from readings, from having people making a foray out of the private place where they read a book and approach the writer, say at a reading.

Reviews are a degree of separation again, but they are another part of the conversation that writing hopefully begins. Or at least contributes to...

Brenda Schmidt said...

It sound like it was a wonderful experience, A. Congratulations again!

Ariel Gordon said...

Thanks, B...for everything.